Seafood Allergy

Information on the causes of of seafood allergies and seafood allergy symptoms.

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  1. What Are Seafood Allergies?
  2. Diagnosing Seafood Allergies
  3. Help for Seafood Allergy Sufferers
  4. More Information about Seafood Allergies

What Are Seafood Allergies?

Seafood allergies can take many forms including fish, shellfish or both, and are quite common. Anyone can develop a seafood allergy; however, they are more prevalent in adult males than in children or women.

Diagnosing Seafood Allergies

Seafood allergies may be mild or severe. You may be allergic to seafood if you eat fish or shellfish and then develop nausea, diarrhea or abdominal pain. Some individuals get a rash or hives, which are a common reaction and often appear as raised, itchy lesions. Additionally, sometimes a runny nose, watery eyes, wheezing or nasal congestion may be present.

Signs and symptoms of a severe reaction called anaphylaxis include nausea, vomiting, rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing and swelling of the neck, mouth or face. Hives may be present and fainting or dizziness may occur. If these symptoms are present, call 911 immediately. You will need a shot of adrenaline, also called epinephrine, immediately as anaphylaxis can be fatal.

Fortunately, most reactions to seafood are mild, and can often be eliminated simply by avoiding seafood.

Help for Seafood Allergy Sufferers

Conventional and alternative practitioners can diagnose allergies, and pharmaceutical and natural medications can be used separately or together to treat symptoms. The most important thing that you can do is to avoid consuming whatever type of seafood that you are allergic to.

What Else Do I Need to Know about Seafood Allergies?

  • If you develop a seafood allergy, then you will likely be allergic to seafood for the rest of your life.
  • You may be able to eat some kinds of fish even if you have an allergy to fish. An allergist should be consulted if you are considering eating a different kind of fish than one that caused a reaction.
  • Shellfish allergies are a type of seafood allergy. The most common shellfish allergies are caused by crustaceans (lobster, crab and shrimp). Other shellfish allergies include allergies to mollusks. Examples of mollusks are clams, oysters and mussels. Some people who are allergic to crustaceans are able to safely eat mollusks.
  • Cross contamination is a risk for people who suffer from seafood allergies. This occurs when two kinds of seafood come into contact with each other. For example, you may be able to eat codfish, but it may have touched some shrimp. Even if you do not eat the shrimp, you may have an allergic reaction due to cross contamination if you have a shrimp allergy.
  • Various types of seafood may be hidden in surimi, fish stock, Worcestershire sauce and Caesar salad dressing.
  • People who are very sensitive to seafood may need to avoid restaurants and kitchens where seafood is prepared to avoid airborne allergens. 
  • Pharmaceutical drugs may have uncomfortable side effects including dry mouth or drowsiness. Follow instructions of the medications carefully. Some cause drowsiness and may impair your ability to drive or safely operate machinery.
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